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The Lipstick Guide to Content Marketing

The Lipstick Guide to Content Marketing

Content marketing vs. branded content: what’s the difference?
Content marketing detractors often call it a fad, deeming it as nothing more than a veiled form of advertising.
The reality is that many people confuse content marketing with branded content.
In an age where intrusive ‘advertising’ is frowned upon, many marketers (and agencies alike) use ‘content’ as a buzzword to reframe what they do. Ads become ‘content’, copywriters become ‘content writers’, and creative directors become ‘content strategists’.  Branded content is really content backed with an ad mindset and ad dollars.
The main difference between branded content and content marketing lies in their approach. Branded content seeks to promote products by ‘dressing’ them up in creative formats such as infographics and videos, so that the target audience pay attention to the product being sold.
Content marketing, however, is more ‘editorial’ than ‘sales’: good content marketing always revolves around audience engagement and puts the audience first. No matter what format the content is created in, the focus of content marketing is to inform, educate, and inspire first in order to create brand loyalty.
To illustrate this difference, imagine you’re a marketer for a cosmetics company. If you’re doing branded content, you may do a short video showing a panel of testers trying out the colours of your lipstick line. If you’re targeting a younger crowd, you may even do a Buzzfeed-style quiz to see which lipstick colour (from your makeup line) would match the reader.
In content marketing, you will keep the brand mention to a minimum and focus more on makeup tips – for instance, choosing the right lipstick colour for your skin tone. Or even a video on how to remove lipstick stains on different materials (Here. You’re welcome!) You may even build an entire content hub around makeup tips!
As subtle as these two examples seem, the difference is clear: one seeks to increase awareness of a product line, while the other seeks to educate on how to use makeup better.
This is not to say that branded content is ‘wrong’ – they’re different approaches that help brands reach out to audiences at different phases of the customer journey, as well as achieve different business goals.
If both approaches have their merits, why are they usually confused with each other?
We believe that this stems from not understanding the differences between content marketing and advertising, and may well tie in with how marketers justify content budgets to management. This then leads to management demanding more brand mentions in company content, which ends up in brands churning out branded content being passed as ‘content marketing’.
To execute content marketing the way it’s supposed to be run, you need to have a content strategy that is tied to business goals.
This requires content ‘success’ to be measured in terms of audience engagement instead of sales numbers. The more your audience comments and shares your content, the more your brand becomes relevant to them, and that is what will ultimately lead to your brand being top-of-mind the next time they’re buying lipstick.

Tags: B2B Marketing, B2C Marketing, Brand Activation, Branding, Content Generation, Demand Generation

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